I just got back from Amphorae VI which this year was held at Auckland University, three days of excellent postgraduate papers. Big kudos to organisers Lawrence Xu and Nicola Wright and their team of volunteers! As well as hearing some excellent presentations I got good feedback from several people on my own paper Treachery Worse Than Punic: Livy’s Landscape and Hannibal’s Invasion of Italy, which I will use to hopefully improve it further. Also met and hung out with friends new and old, its great to discuss research in informal settings like this. Its maintained a consistently good quality of papers for six years now! Next year Amphorae VII will be at Sydney University.
The British Museum’s Online research catalogue format offered a marvellous tool for this visual presentation, especially as it is linked to the collections database with its descriptions and bibliographies. Unlike a print catalogue it is continually updatable (and it needs to be: in May I am in Geneva to examine a new doctoral thesis by Pierre Meyrat on the previously untranslated magical texts in the library). Many of the fragments have not been fully published, some have never been published in photographs before, so this format will open up the library for study – as a whole and for the first time in its modern history.
In an earlier post several days ago I mentioned a pharaonic head in red jasper that’s up for auction at Christies on Dec 7. Finally located the Christie’s catalogue online (it’s Flash only). In that catalogue the provenance is listed as “Acquired by the current owner, Paris, 1977”. There are three publications listed on the item (two in German) all post-dating 1998, and which all look like exhibition catalogue entries. There are other possibly dodgy items (“the provenance has too many red flags”) too.
Including a “Head of a Pharaoh in red jasper”, first exhibited in 1998, but no other information what its provenance is/was? No information on this auction to be found on the Christies site. So where did it come from, I wonder?
Leading the sale is an Egyptian Head of a Pharaoh in red jasper, one of the rarest and most beautiful Egyptian works of art to appear at auction in decades (estimate: $3,000,000-$5,000,000). Nearly 4 inches high, the superbly sculpted head was originally part of a composite statue in which the face, hands and feet were all carved from a bright red jasper, a material that was used only rarely for larger statuary. The rest of the statue likely was carved from alabaster, limestone, or wood. The original complete statue would have stood about 36 inches high.
Since this red jasper head was first presented to the public at the Antikenmuseum Basel, where it was exhibited between 1998 and 2011, there has been intense scholarly debate as to the identity of the Pharaoh depicted. There are close stylistic parallels, in the shape of the head and the aquiline nose, to portraits of the 18th Dynasty female Pharaoh Hatshepsut and her stepson Thutmose III. Others see, in the treatment of the lips and the subtle creases on the neck, a close resemblance to portraits of the 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Seti I and his son Ramesses II. No matter the identity of the Pharaoh portrayed, the glorious qualities of the art of the New Kingdom are perfectly encapsulated in this exquisite red jasper portrait.
(Via Art Daily.)
Update 22 Nov: in the Christie’s catalogue (Flash) the provenance is listed as “Acquired by the current owner, Paris, 1977”. There are three publications listed on the item (two in German) all post-dating 1998, and which all look like exhibition catalogue entries. There are other possibly dodgy items (“the provenance has too many red flags”) too.
Some stolen artefacts recently recovered from Mossgreen Auctions in Melbourne, and returned to Egypt, although I don’t understand how a Canopic jar could “belong” to one of “Horus’s sons dating from the Middle Kingdom”? I guess a mistranslation for one of the four gods who personified the jars.
Among the most unique of these objects are a 26th-Dynasty bronze statue of the Apis Bull; a glass statue of Maat, the goddess of justice; a bronze statue of Osiris, the god of prosperity; and a lid from a canopic jar that belonged to one of Horus’s sons dating from the Middle Kingdom.